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Fixin' Healthcare

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Older With Hope For the Future

Life expectancy in the US increased to 77.6 years in 2003 from 77.3 in 2002, according to a report released on Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics at CDC. However, about half of U.S. residents ages 55 to 64 have high blood pressure, and two in five are obese. NCHS researchers examined data collected by the agency and other health agencies and organizations. Deaths from heart disease, cancer and stroke all decreased by between 2% and 5% in 2003. Researchers also compared data for U.S. residents ages 55 to 64 in the early 1990s with data from baby boomers, who are currently in that age group. According to the report, 42% of U.S. residents who were ages 55 to 64 in 1990s had high blood pressure, compared with 50% of baby boomers, and 31% of those in the 1990s group were obese, compared with 39% of baby boomers.

That is good news but with a note of caution. The implication is these statistics might become worse in the future. True, but to be forewarned is to be forearmed and there are means to change extrapolations for the future. More people and organizations are recognizing the ability to change that future with lifestyle and preventive health care.

On that note, researchers at the Yale School of Medicine report the rates of chronic disability in older Americans has been substantially overestimated by about forty percent (December 12th Archives of Internal Medicine). America and older Americans need to stop thinking of age as a special category with decreased potential. Productive contributions to society, enjoyment of life and optimum health should be considerations until the very end of life. No one should ever give up joyous anticipation of the future.

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